Monday, March 14, 2016

The Continued Adventures with Umbrella Factory Magazine

Issue 23 Umbrella Factory Magazine launches on March 15. I'm amazed that it's gone on as long as it has. I feel like every time I start to look at other magazines, they come and go with alarming frequency. I think it's the nature of the small literary magazine: it's a great deal of work with very little return. There must be a bit of a return, or else why would anyone do it?

At the onset of this magazine in 2009, I was teaching basic college skills to college candidates at the Community College of Denver. It was a very disheartening experience and one that hasn't seemed to lessen with perspective. I remember one day asking one of my classes: “Why do you want to go to college?” and the responses were better jobs, more money, etc. I suspect that that is the final irony, going to college does not really mean better jobs or more money, but it almost always means more debt.

My suggestion to my class was for them to go do their own thing, go make something, get into manufacturing. Like what? I don't know, umbrellas? The conversation resonated more with me than with my students.

And here I am, several years later, nearly 7 years, and this magazine is still going on with the slow steady quarterly cadence.

I think anyone who wants to start a literary magazine should do it. It's a Kevin Costner thing: “If you build it they will come,” which is certainly true of writers. Writers are everywhere, they're among us, and they are restlessly recording their observations daily and they need a vehicle.

I'm a very low-fi, nearly Ludite in my tech ways, but I'm an advocate for the online magazine. The online magazine can be shared instantly, reach endless audience and it's free or close to it. We're in 2016. In 2009, there were many online magazines, but they were somehow not as good or reputable as their printed counterparts. Print is dead. And it's amazing how fast it died. There were many print magazine types in Umbrella Factory Magazine's first year who all but poo-pooed us and our mission. How many of them still exist, I wonder?

There was another very curious incident very early on, which I love to recount. There is another magazine, a poetry magazine, that has a similar name to ours. Now, it's not the same name, but we share one word. The email I got from them was simply, “We are not amused.” I sent a polite email back, I had to, because it's who I am, and I don't want to hurt anyone's amusement. The real feeling I got from this other editor was that their basic attitude was one of scarcity. I am the opposite. The more magazines out there, the better. The more editors working for more writers, the better. There is enough room for all of us.

With this latest issue, I have not been happier with the product. If you're reading this, I hope you look at Umbrella Factory Magazine.

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